Ascent, the Spa at Tenaya Lodge-Yosemite National Park

By on August 1, 2011

By Michele McIntyre, Spa Examiner –

After four days in the hustle and bustle of city life in San Francisco, I was ready for some peace, serenity and mountain air. So on a Tuesday morning, my husband, eight-year-old son and I made the long, hot, flat drive east from San Francisco to Tenaya Lodge, just a few miles from the south entrance to Yosemite National Park.

yosemite valley

Yosemite Valley

Tenaya’s close proximity to Yosemite’s south entrance make it an ideal home base for exploring Wawona, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and other south Yosemite attractions. With traffic, construction and winding roads, it can take an hour and a half to get to Yosemite Valley from Tenaya. But let’s face it, the major attractions of aren’t really close to anything. If you’re looking for a full service resort, Tenaya is your place.

Tenaya Lodge Lobby

Tenaya Lodge Lobby

If you want to be well connected to the spa, restaurants and the main lobby, ask for a room in the West Wing. At 550 square feet, room 345 was a nicely appointed Spa Suite decorated in hues of cranberry and mustard with a bit of a southwest flair.

My family appreciated the spacious King bedded room with lots of extras, like a wet bar, refrigerator, coffee maker and private balcony facing a spectacular nightly sunset. In the well-designed extra large bathroom we found ProTerra bath products, an oversized spa tub, separate tiled walk-in shower with glass blocks and counter space that went on forever. There was a copy of the latest issue of Spa Magazine in my room (yes!) and bathrobes in the closet – indulgences that added to the spa-like theme of the suite.

While the spa suites are likely very popular with couples, it was a great size and layout for our family of three. Our eight year old was more than happy to camp out on the queen-sized pull out sofa bed for our 3-night stay. A large flat-screen television and tons of storage space added to the family appeal. Everything was in great condition and in proper working order.

We were treated to a welcome gift of candy, cheese & crackers, and artfully displayed fruits in a martini glass, which my family devoured, perhaps a hint of what to expect from Tenaya’s catering and room service offerings.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Glacier Point

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Glacier Point

Plan your visit to Yosemite carefully to make the most of your time in the park – we found that time flew by and there weren’t enough hours in the day to see and do everything. We followed the sage advice of Tenaya’s knowledgeable and friendly concierge staff and were on the road before 8 am. We missed much of the later morning traffic and it took hours before we even noticed the crowds. Our Yosemite touring plan went like this:

Tenaya Lodge-Pool

Tenaya Lodge-Pool

Day 1 – Arrive at Tenaya, swim in the outdoor pool, and enjoy an al fresco dinner on the fireside patio and a good nights rest.
Day 2 – Yosemite Valley
Day 3 – Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Glacier Point
Day 4 – Depart Tenaya Lodge for Lake Tahoe via Tioga Pass Road, with a visit to Tuolumne Meadows (and every lake and stream in between).

Tenaya is ultra family-friendly: kids have their own restaurant menus; there is a large arcade, and coin-operated guest laundry facilities, and a beautiful pool area – something that the entire family can enjoy.

On our first night at Tenaya, tired from the long drive from SF, we decided to stay close and dine on the fireside outdoor patio of the Sierra Restaurant. When my son spilled his drink, the gracious staff didn’t miss a beat helping us clean it up and replacing the beverage, this time with a lidded cup.

Ascent Spa-Tenaya Lodge

Tenaya Lodge-Ascent Spa

Yosemite National Park is known for many things: world-class climbing, extreme weather and breathtaking vistas. What Yosemite may not be so well known for is luxury spas. But Tenaya Lodge changed all that with the opening of Ascent, The Spa at Tenaya Lodge, in 2010.

It’s nearly 100 degrees out and my family has just spent the day hiking, climbing, driving and riding the eco-friendly shuttle around Northern California’s Yosemite National Park – an enormous beauty the size of Rhode Island. My feet are hot and tired and my back and shoulders are aching from the not-so-posture friendly backpack I’ve been carrying around all day. I can’t think of a more natural place to head than Ascent, the Spa at Tenaya Lodge.

woman getting massage at Ascent Spa

Ascent Spa

The soothing soundtrack of the waterfall induces immediate relaxation as soon as my elevator arrives at the spas lower level. Once inside, the natural surroundings of the Sierra National Forest and nearby Yosemite are the inspiration for the décor, the indigenous treatments, and the spirit of Ascent.

Sage green walls, walnut lockers and cabinetry and velvety soft chocolate brown towels and linens are a wonderful departure from pure white sheets and towels most commonly found at spas. In the locker room area, you’ll find oversize tile showers with handheld and rain showers, a simple vanity area and botanical prints on the walls.

Tenaya is popular for weddings and events, so it makes perfect sense that there is a private locker room for special occasions like bridal parties. The spa level also features a fitness center, exercise room and retail area. A large dry sauna and steam room, not infused with essential oils like eucalyptus, shows the spas commitment to avoiding allergens that might bother sensitive guests.

Product lines include locally produced Kimberly Parry Organics – known for high-quality, certified organic, esthetically sourced flora that the founder searches for throughout the world. In fact, local products are used whenever possible.

A beautiful location and an amazing spa experience combine to make Tenaya a vacation destination that every woman should experience, and one that this women highly recommends.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
1122 Highway 41
PO Box 159
Fish Camp, CA 9362
(888) 514-2167

Michele McIntyre is a freelance spa, travel & wellness writer who is happiest when lying face up on a treatment table or writing about her spa and travel experiences. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. She is a regular contributor to Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and is a National Spa Examiner for Michele’s adventures have been featured on a variety of websites including a stint as a guest spa blogger on Tripology and as a storyteller on TripAtlas. You can read her blog at:

Michele McIntyre

About Michele McIntyre

Michele McIntyre is a freelance writer who covers spas, travel, fitness, wellness, beauty and healthy living/eating. She is happiest when lying face up on the treatment table, writing about her spa and travel experiences or testing new products to share with her readers. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. Michele is a regular travel contributor to LivingBetterat50+ and has written for Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and online at Tripology, TripAtlas, and Splash Magazines Worldwide. Michele blogs about the spa and travel industry, and anything else she can think of, at When she isn't writing about or visiting spas, Michele loves traveling, hiking, skiing, camping, yoga and reading. If any of these pursuits can be combined with a visit to the spa, even better! Michele can be reached at [email protected]

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Ascent, the Spa at Tenaya Lodge-Yosemite National Park